Fluent Performance Ends Olympic Champion’s Medal Dreams
Playing in his now trademark fluent style, 20 year Zhang Jike ended the medal hopes of Chinese national team colleague, Ma Lin, the reigning Olympic Men’s Singles champion, at the quarter-final stage of the Men’s Singles event at the Evergrande Real Estate Asian Cup in Guangzhou on the evening of Friday 26th March 2010.
In the meeting of the top two seeded players, it was the no.2 seed who prevailed; the reason for the clash taking place in the round of the last was that in the initial stage, Zhang Jike had finished in second place in his group, having lost to Ko Lai Chak, the eventual group winner.
The meeting in Guangzhou was the fourth time the pair has met in 2010 in world ranking events and it is the third time that Zhang Jike has won.
Furthermore, all four contests have been decided in five games.
ITTF Pro Tour Clashes
Zhang Jike won the first clash in January when they met in the first round of the Men’s Singles event at the ITTF Pro Tour Grand Finals in Macao; he won again when they confronted each other at the quarter-final stage in Doha at the Qatar Open but when the met the following week in Kuwait Ma Lin extracted revenge in their semi-final duel.
Recognised Good Record
The three previous meetings in 2010 had not escaped to mind of Zhang Jike.
“I have a good record against Ma Lin”, explained Zhang Jike. “After losing this morning to Ko Lai Chak I went away and sat quietly for some time to think about this match; tonight I was more positive than I had been this morning.”
Certainly, the smooth style of Zhang Jike is a pleasure to behold and he has threatened in recent times to win a Men’s Singles title on the ITTF Pro Tour but as yet has never crossed the final hurdle.
Perhaps one of the reasons he has just fallen short is when he become a shade passive, relying too much on his undoubted blocking skills and control over a table tennis ball.
“I think against Ma Lin, the third game was crucial; I could sense that Ma Lin was becoming more aggressive”, added Zhang Jike. “When you play Ma Lin it’s very easy to be caught out.”
In Guangzhou, Zhang Jike offered no charity!
Xu Xin Equally Impressive
It was an impressive display by Zhang Jike and equally impressive was 20 year old Xu Xin, he beat 18 year old Kim Min Seok of Korea.
“I think I played better this evening than this morning”, said Xu Xin. “Kim Min Seok is of a similar level to Seo Hyun Deok so I knew reasonably what to expect even though it was the first time I had played Kim Min Seok.”
Xu Xin had played Seo Hyun Deok in the group stage and emerged successful.
Speed the Key
“Both Kim Min Seok and Seo Hyun Deok are dangerous players, both have very good potential”, continued Xu Xin. “One of the main reasons I won today was because I played faster than Kim Min Seok.”
Certainly speed is a major key to the success of Xu Xin, his sideways movement is quite incredible.
Gao Ning and Ko Lai Chak in Form
Impressive performances in the upper half of the draw and impressive wins in the lower half where both Hong Kong’s Ko Lai Chak and Singapore’s Gao Ning were in splendid form.
In five games Ko Lai Chak defeated colleague Tse Ka Chun in five games whilst by the same margin, Gao Ning overcame Korea’s Seo Hyun Deok.
Meanwhile, in the contests for 9th to 16th places it was Iran’s 18 year old Noshad Alamiyan who impressed; in six games he beat the more experienced Wu Chih-Chi of Chinese Taipei in a round where there were mixed fortunes for young players.
Chinese Taipei’s Chen Chien-An beat Japan’s Kasuhiro Chan but the latter’s colleague, Koki Niwa, suffered defeat at the hands of Kuwait’s Ibrahem Al-hasan
In the one remaining duel, Singapore’s Yang Zi defeated India’s Sharath Kamal Achanta in five games.